PRESIDENT BUHARI’S INDEPENDENCE ADDRESS LACKS DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES – RIGHTS GROUP

…Restates Need For Constitutional Conference

Ejikeme Omenazu, Lagos

 The Foundation for Human Rights And Anti-Corruption Crusade (FHRACC), a Niger Delta-based human rights group, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s last Sunday’s independence anniversary address lacked the principles of democracy where the will of the people is the foundation for governance.

The group, which took a critical analysis of the president’s October 1, 2019 speech, said: “We found out that the President only considered himself as a President of a particular section, while the larger majority of the people are not in his agenda. As a President, the interest of all Nigerians should have been his utmost priority. But, that is not the case with Buhari.”

Barrister Alaowei E. Cleric, FHRACC National President, who signed the statement, said: “In his address, Mr. President said that ‘At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National and State Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for national debate, not some lopsided, undemocratic body with predetermined set of objectives.”

The group said that an appraisal of the President’s position on the clamour for national dialogue showed that that he was speaking for his core Northern region, adding: “This is the position of the core northern oligarchs who after willingly attended the 2014 National Conference, later rescinded on the assumption of office by President Buhari that they would not accept the resolutions because the composition of the conference was lopsided.

The group expressed surprise that President Buhari, even at this critical period of the nation’s corporate existence had refused to see himself as the father of nation, stressing: “We make bold to say that Mr. President goofed for holding that only legislative assemblies can bring an acceptable constitutional changes to the country.

“The National and the State Houses of Assemblies, as presently composed, can never bring any constitutional change to the country. The recent unwholesome rejection of devolution of power by the National Assembly is a clear testimony of these unbridled representations.

“No legislative assembly in the world over has ever enacted an acceptable constitution for the people. It is the constituent assemblies that enact those constitutions. The 1960 and 63 celebrated constitutions, which Nigerians are referring as precedents for good governance, were products of constitutional conferences.

“The American Constitution, which we copied in this country, has been a product of constitutional conferences for over the years. Even the 1979 and 1999 military constitutions were products of constitutional conferences. President Buhari cannot feign ignorance of these established facts.”

The group maintained that the agitations for a better constitutional deal in the country would not stop unless the government do the needful by either convening a constitutional conference for Nigerians in every divide to freely enact an acceptable constitution for ourselves or adopts the reports of the previous constitutional conferences, especially the PRONACO constitutional conference of 2006 and the National Conference of 2014.

It added: “On Mr. President’s verbal arsenal on South East leaders, it is preposterous that the President cannot identify the cause of the agitations in the East. The agitations in the South East is not the failure of the leaders in the region to admonish the young ones, it is chiefly caused by Buhari’s developmental ratios.

“The 95% and 5% developmental ratio, which Buhari has implemented against the region, both in appointment and in distribution of capital projects, is the architect of the agitations. Instead of Mr. President to blame people who are victims of his political attrition, let him change his body language towards the region.

 “As a President, you rule Nigeria as a single constituency and not on the percentage of voting ratios. He is a President of Nigeria and not a particular section.”

 
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